Barbara Merritt


Barb uses her home computer to shop, e-mail friends, and sometimes to extract DNA from a cadaver. The 41-year old single mother is pursuing her second degree on-line.

Her first, an A.S. in Information Technology, laid the groundwork for the courses she takes in her current discipline. The hands-on training in biology and forensics, required to complete her degree in Criminal Justice, is fulfilled by virtual lab.

She is earning her bachelor's degree from Colorado Technical University thousands of miles away from her Florida home. She hopes to complete her degree by November 2006.

"The hardest thing about going to school on-line is posting homework on the discussion board twice a week," says the busy mother of an 11-year old boy, and two girls aged 14 and 18.

She works nights as a security guard. So she really had to devise a system to stay organized and stay on task.

"I spend four hours on Saturday doing work for the Monday boards. And I spend four hours on Wednesday doing the Friday boards." She was initially discouraged when she learned that students should budget eight hours a week for each class. But she didn't turn away.

She decided instead to give it a shot. Now she feels she is turning out quality work in a fraction of the time because she is so focused and disciplined.

It was that tenacity that led Barb to seek her first degree on-line. The former waitress almost missed the registration period for Florida Community College. She was in the process of moving.

"By the time I got there, the classes I needed weren't available."

However, there was still plenty of room in each of the on-line courses. When she enrolled there were just a few students. So she went for it.


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